A Gatesville man with a disturbing history of arrests for sexually abusing children was indicted June 1 by a Coryell County grand jury on a charge of capital murder in the death of a 2-year old boy in January.

Chet Shelton, 17, was arrested and booked into the Coryell County Jail. Coryell County District Attorney Dusty Boyd confirmed his office would seek the death penalty in any upcoming trial.

On the date of the incident, Shelton was tasked with baby-sitting Gatesville toddler Makai Brooks Lamar for most of the day while the child’s mother worked a double shift at a local restaurant, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit also said the child’s mother came home during a break from work and the child was fine at that time. After the mother returned to work, Shelton said he found the boy not breathing and took the child to a neighbor’s home where a Coryell County sheriff’s deputy lived.

According to the affidavit, the child died a few hours later at Coryell Memorial Hospital in Gatesville.

Police immediately began treating the 34th Street home in Gatesville as a crime scene, beginning in the child’s bedroom, where they found bloody bedding and pillows.

In the arrest affidavit, police highlight several inconsistencies with Shelton’s story regarding the events in the hours before the child’s death, one of which was that Lamar always slept clothed and in a diaper.

According to the affidavit, “when Shelton took the infant child to the neighbor’s house for medical assistance, the infant was wearing no clothing, not even a diaper.”

Serious injuries were confirmed during an autopsy conducted in Dallas. The preliminary cause of death was labeled as blunt force trauma, as the child has numerous injuries to his head and internal organs.

The affidavit also said the child had been sodomized, causing “severe, distinct trauma” to the child.

Shelton’s criminal history includes three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in May 2007, three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in December 2007, two counts of assault causing serious bodily injury in October 2010 and four counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact in May 2007.

According to Boyd, in exchange for his guilty plea in the earlier cases, many of the most serious charges against Shelton were downgraded to injury to a child, which does not carry a sex offender registration requirement. It was not clear in which jurisdiction Shelton’s previous convictions were filed.

Online jail records show Shelton remains in the Coryell County Jail on several bonds totaling more than $500,000.

Boyd said Shelton’s case is Coryell County’s only death penalty case.

It appears to me that a failure of the judicial system allowed Shelton to skirt the sex offender registration requirement, and avoid lengthy prison terms for the most serious of his previous crimes. That failure also allowed Shelton to be free to reoffend at the level of this charge.

Shelton gets his day in court. He will have the opportunity to mount a defense to the charges. Shelton also will be faced by his accusers.

If found guilty, Shelton deserves the punishment he receives, be it the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. His tiny victim has no life at all.

Assaults

Nine assaults were reported this week, seven involving family violence. This repetitious statistic is thoroughly disgusting and the perpetrators of these crimes should feel equally ashamed.

  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported May 30 in the 1100 block of South Seventh Street.
  • An assault by threat was reported May 31 in the 600 block of Traci Drive.
  • An aggravated assault with a deadly weapon was reported May 31 in the 2100 block of Wayne Street. This is a felony offense.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported May 31 in the 400 block of Hill Street.
  • An aggravated assault with a deadly weapon was reported June 1 in the 1900 block of Miles Street.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported June 2 in the 500 block of Lincoln Avenue.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported June 4 in the 800 block of Margaret Lee Street.
  • Two separate counts of assault by contact/family violence were reported June 4 in the 1600 block of North Main Street.

Theft/burglary

Well, summer vacation is upon us, and the statistics are keeping in line with historic numbers. Twenty-three thefts were reported in a short seven-day period. As always, I have a hint to help you maintain possession of your property. Take valuables with you, lock up valuables and keep them out of sight. Take it, hide it, lock it.

  • A theft of a wallet and contents was reported May 30 in the 2000 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A wallet and contents was reported stolen May 30 in the 100 block of West Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The theft of currency and a Lone Star Card from a vehicle was reported May 30 in the 200 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190. There were some busy thieves and careless victims in this area.
  • Forgery of a financial instrument was reported May 30 in the 1500 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The theft of a travel trailer was reported May 30 in the 200 block of Allen Street.
  • A theft of a wallet, purse and contents from a vehicle was reported May 30 in the 100 block of East Blancas Drive.
  • An aggravated robbery was reported May 31 in the 300 block of Myra Lou Avenue.
  • The theft of iTunes gift cards valued at $3,500 was reported May 31 in the 2900 block of Sunflower Trail.
  • A theft of medication was reported June 1 in the 2000 block of Dennis Street.
  • A forgery of a government document/money was reported June 1 in the 300 block of Lutheran Church Road.
  • A burglary of a vehicle was reported June 2 in the 200 block of Patterson Street.
  • Credit card abuse and theft of a wallet, contents and currency from a vehicle was reported June 2 in the 500 block of Bond Street.
  • A theft of golf clubs and clothing from a vehicle was reported June 2 in the 23400 block of Dalton Street.
  • The theft of a GPS and sunglasses from a vehicle was reported June 2 in the 3400 block of Plains Street.
  • The theft of groceries, an IDD card, keys and currency from a vehicle was reported June 2 in the 3500 block of Lauren Street. Take-it, hide-it, lock-it!
  • The theft of headphones and coinage from a vehicle was reported June 2 in the 3400 block of Settlement Road.
  • The theft of a battery was reported at a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The theft of a 2006 Ford pickup truck was reported stolen June 2 in the 500 block of South 13th Street.
  • A theft was reported June 4 in the 2000 block of Wayne Street.
  • A theft was reported June 4 in the 1100 block of Travis Circle.
  • A theft was reported June 4 in the 200 block of North First Street.
  • A theft was reported June 3 in the 2400 block of Vernice Drive

Other crimes

  • Criminal mischief was reported May 30 in the 900 block of 19th Street
  • The discharge of a firearm in city limits and animal at large/dangerous or vicious animal were reported May 30 in the 2200 block of Keenan Avenue.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported June 1 in the 1200 block of Hawk Trail.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported June 2 in the 200 block of North First Street.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported June 4 in the 700 block of Constitution Drive.

Tip of the week

National statistics verify that more than 75 percent of all thefts from vehicles, vehicle burglaries and vehicle thefts involved unlocked vehicles. Central Texas statistics match that pathetic statistic.

How tough can it be to click the lock button? Laziness and apathy are the foremost contributors to vehicle burglaries. Wise up and lock up, people.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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